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93 publications found

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
Does being human influence science and technology?

by Laura Fogg-Rogers

This article addresses two major questions about women and science. Firstly, the commentary looks at the ways science and technology are discussed and represented all around us in society. Secondly, I ask whether this matters. The defining issue is therefore whether or not being human affects the type of science and technology that is conducted and valued within our society. By addressing these questions in science communication, we can add much to the debate about gender diversity and affirmative action being portrayed in our media and culture.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
From ‘post truth’ to e-persons, contemporary issues in science communication

by Emma Weitkamp

The Science in Public Conference, held this year at the University of Sheffield, generated animated discussion of a wide range of topics. Six commentaries cover conference themes around engagement with science and technology and how science and technology are shaping what it means to be human. The commentaries range from discussions of our relationship with expertise and how science communication can better act as a knowledge broker in a time of ‘alternative facts’ to exploration of fictional narratives and how they might be used to open up dialogue about science and technology.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Jul 20, 2017 Article
Beyond propaganda: science coverage in Soviet Estonian media

by Arko Olesk

Previous studies have concluded that science coverage in Soviet countries was determined by the ideological function of the media. This paper analyses the science coverage in Soviet Estonian publications Rahva Hääl and Horisont in 1960/1967 and 1980 and demonstrates that the popularization of science existed as an independent function of articles. This suggests that the parallel developments in science communication on both sides of the Iron Curtain deserve further study.

Volume 16 • Issue 03 • 2017 • Special Issue: History of Science Communication, 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
The landscape of online visual communication of science

by Cristina Rigutto

Online visual communication of science focuses on interactive sharing and participatory collaboration rather than simple knowledge dissemination. Visuals need to be stunning to draw people in and engage them, and a cross-media approach together with digital multimedia tools can be used to develop a clear and engaging narrative to communicate complex scientific topics. On the web both science communicators and the public manage co-create, shape, modify, decontextualise and share visuals. When it happens that low science literacy publics devoid a picture of its information assets, caption or source, they distort image meaning and perpetuate misinformation.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
Old media and new opportunities for a computational social science on PCST

by Federico Neresini

Although with some reluctance, social sciences now seem to have accepted the challenge deriving from the growing digitisation of communication and the consequent flow of data on the web. There are actually various empirical studies that use the digital traces left by the myriads of interactions that occur through social media and e-commerce platforms, and this trend also concerns the research in the PCST field. However, the opportunity offered by the digitisation of traditional mass media communication — the newspapers in particular — is much less exploited. Building on the experience of the TIPS project, this paper discusses the advantages and the limits of computational social science on PCST using newspapers as the main source of data. Some methodological issues are also addressed, in order to suggest a more aware use of such data and the several computational tools available for analysing them.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Jun 21, 2017 Commentary
Computer-aided text analysis: an open-aired laboratory for social sciences

by Yuri Castelfranchi

Thanks, on the one hand, to the extraordinary availability of colossal textual archives and, on the other hand, to advances in computational possibilities, today the social scientist has at their disposal an extraordinary laboratory, made of millions of interacting subjects and billions of texts. An unprecedented, yet challenging, opportunity for science. How to test, corroborate models? How to control, interpret and validate Big Data? What is the role of theory in the universe of patterns and statistical correlations? In this article, we will show some general characteristics of the use of computational tools for the analysis of texts, and some applications in the areas of public communication of S&T and Science and Technology Studies (STS), also showing some of their limitations and pitfalls.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Jun 01, 2017 Conference Review
Hollyweird Science ― A symposium at the 253rd Annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. San Francisco 3 & 4 April 2017

by Erik Stengler

Science in film is gaining attention from scientists and science communicators. Sixteen experts gathered at the 253rd Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society to explore the role and relevance of science in film. An audience of researchers, academics and students enjoyed first-hand accounts from filmmakers, science consultants and experts in science communication, who all agreed on the important impact the way science is depicted in film has on education, outreach and the relationship between science and society.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

Mar 28, 2017 Commentary
Babelfish and the peculiar symbiosis of public intellectualism and academia

by Kylie Walker

Arthur Dent's reluctant hitchhike through the Milky Way would not have been possible without the babelfish, which was nourished by his brain waves and in return decoded foreign languages for him. In much the same way, public intellectuals serve as science and technology academia's babelfish for the non-STEM savvy. While STEM academics continue to push back the frontiers of knowledge, public intellectuals equip the community with the knowledge we need to make big decisions, both for our own individual lives and for our society.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Aug 17, 2016 Article
Tweeting disaster: an analysis of online discourse about nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident

by Nan Li, Heather Akin, Leona Yi-Fan Su, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos and Dietram A. Scheufele

Of all the online information tools that the public relies on to collect information and share opinions about scientific and environmental issues, Twitter presents a unique venue to assess the spontaneous and genuine opinions of networked publics, including those about a focusing event like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Using computational linguistic algorithms, this study analyzes a census of English-language tweets about nuclear power before, during, and after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Results show that although discourse about the event may have faded rapidly from the news cycle on traditional media, it evoked concerns about reactor safety and the environmental implications of nuclear power, particularly among users in U.S. states that are geographically closer to the accident site. Also, while the sentiment of the tweets was primarily pessimistic about nuclear power weeks after the accident, overall sentiment became increasingly neutral and uncertain over time. This study reveals there is a group of concerned citizens and stakeholders who are using online tools like Twitter to communicate about global and local environmental and health risks related to nuclear power. The implications for risk communication and public engagement strategies are discussed.

Volume 15 • Issue 05 • 2016

Jun 07, 2016 Essay
The necessary "GMO" denialism and scientific consensus

by Giovanni Tagliabue

"Genetically Modified Organisms" are not a consistent category: it is impossible to discuss such a miscellaneous bunch of products, deriving from various biotech methods, as if they had a common denominator. Critics are too often pre-emptively suspicious of peculiar risks for health or the environment linked to this ill-assorted ensemble of microorganisms, plants or animals: yet, even before being unscientific, the expression "GMO(s)" has very poor semantic value. Similarly, claims that recombinant DNA technology is always safe are a misjudgement: many unsatisfactory "GMOs" have been discarded, as has happened also for innumerable agri-food outcomes, obtained via more or less traditional field and lab methods. The scientific consensus, i.e. the widespread accord among geneticists, biologists and agriculturalists, maintains that every biotech invention has to be examined case by case, evaluating the unique profile of each new organism ("GMO" or otherwise): to assess its safety, the technique(s) used to produce it are irrelevant. Therefore, in considering "green" biotechnologies, a triple mantra should be kept in mind: 1. product, not process; 2. singular, not plural; 3. a posteriori, not a priori. Both people's and law-makers' attitude to agricultural biotechnologies should be reoriented, and this is an interesting task for science communicators: they should explain how meaningless and misleading the "GMO" frame is, debunking a historical, ongoing socio-political blunder, clarifying to the public what most life scientists have been recommending for several decades.

Volume 15 • Issue 04 • 2016